The Gift of a Season’s Turning

During the month of December, no matter where you live on the Earth, you will experience transformation. For some it will be the turning of the darkness into the light at the Winter Solstice, for others it will be the turning of the light into the darkness at the Summer Solstice. We are all in the grips of nature’s beautiful lessons of a time for growth. When we are patiently attentive, “there is something healing in the(se) repeated refrains of nature…” (Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder), and we are gifted with images from the natural world to help us experience and take in the sensations and lessons of waiting, allowing, turning, and transformation.

David Whyte provides us with a gorgeous lesson on the transformative gifts of waiting and patience in his exquisite poem, Winter Apple.



©2012 David Whyte

Let the apple ripen on the branch

beyond your need to take it down.

Let the coolness of autumn

and the breathing, blowing wind

test its adherence to endurance.

Let the others fall.

Wait longer than you would,

go against yourself,

find the pale nobility

of quiet that ripening demands;

watch with patience as the silhouette emerges

and the leaves fall;

see it become a solitary roundness

against a greying sky.

Let winter come

and the first frost threaten,

and then wake one morning

to see the breath of winter

has haloed its redness with light.

So that a full two months

after you should have

taken the apple down

you hold it in your closed hand

at last and bite into the cool sweetness

spread evenly through every

single atom of a pale

and yielding structure.

So that you taste on that cold, grey day,

not only the after reward of a patience remembered,

not only the summer sunlight

of a postponed perfection,

but the sweet inward stillness

of the wait itself.

One of the reasons I love this particular poem of transformation so much is that it speaks to the sweetness and rewards of “the wait itself”. This is a lesson I am continuing to learn and am finding deeper and deeper lessons and greater inner resources to see “waiting” as a gift, a “Lightening”, and a “sweetness” rather than a burden.

One of my first lessons of waiting and its transformative gifts was in the 5th grade. Up to this point, I apparently exhibited little patience. I did not have an ability to wait – always too eager to get things moving, have questions answered, to “get on with it”, whatever “it” was. And so my most difficult and relevant teacher in my young life often “gifted” me by requiring me to stay on long after the other students had gone home; and spend many a long hour with her writing 100 times, “patience is a virtue I must practice”.

Over time, and although I feigned to hate it, I secretly enjoyed having this teacher all to myself. For after I was done writing “in stillness and perfect penmanship”, she would let me erase the board (so very satisfying!), clap out the erasers (so messy and releasing) and wash the chalkboard. When done, she spent some precious time talking to me as if I were someone interesting to talk to. And so, as she moved me into ‘slower time”, she gave me lessons in patience, careful observation, the satisfaction of “a job well done”, a deeper way of listening, and perhaps the most enduring gift of all – the accumulating effect of her steadfast guidance and attentive time. Her gift of attentive listening provided a sense of the importance of “seeing others” and “being seen”.

What have been your enduring lessons of waiting, stillness, and transformation?

Over the next month, can we look for opportunities to practice “slower time”, stillness, and “seeing”? Can we slow down enough to greet others with a moment of awareness, or gift a smile and gentle nod to someone hurried or seemingly vexed. Can we gift ourselves some quiet moments to check in and take account of how we are doing, what we are feeling, where we have need for slower time?

Nature gives us so many opportunities to observe and take in slower time, in real time.

Over the next month, I wish you the chance to get outside on a clear night, under the stars, within a hushed stillness. Observe that as the world seems still, it yet turns; and the stars fall from the sky, the owl hoots, and we can hear our breathing. We are alive and therefore turning and transforming as well. Receive these glorious gifts in Love.

May All Be Well,

Jo Ann

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